In the latest issue:

In Quarantine

Erin Maglaque

Après Brexit

Ferdinand Mount

Short Cuts: Springtime for Donald

David Bromwich

Meetings with their Gods

Claire Hall

‘Generation Left’

William Davies

At the North Miami Museum: Alice Paalen Rahon

Mary Ann Caws

Buchan’s Banter

Christopher Tayler

‘American Dirt’

Christian Lorentzen

Fiction and the Age of Lies

Colin Burrow

In Lahore

Tariq Ali

GOD HATES YOUR FEELINGS

James Lasdun

Rereading Bowen

Tessa Hadley

At the Corner House

Rosemary Hill

William Gibson

Thomas Jones

Poem: ‘Murph & Me’

August Kleinzahler

The Stud File

Kevin Brazil

John Boorman’s Quiet Ending

David Thomson

In Shanghai: The West Bund Museum

John-Paul Stonard

Diary: The Deborah Orr I Knew

Jenny Turner

The Word from Wuhan

Wang Xiuying

EmploymentJorie Graham
Close
Close

Listen the voice is American it would reach you it has wiring in its swan’s neck
               where it is
               always turning
round to see behind itself as it has no past to speak of except some nocturnal
journals written in woods where the fight has just taken place or is about to
               take place
               for place
the pupils have firelight in them where the man a surveyor or a tracker still has
               no idea what
               is coming
the wall-to-wall cars on the 405 for the ride home from the cubicle or the corner
               office – how big
the difference – or the waiting all day again in line till your number is
               called it will be
               called which means
exactly nothing as no one will say to you as was promised by all eternity ‘ah son, do you
know where you came from, tell me, tell me your story as you have come to this
               Station’ – no, they
               did away with
               the stations
               and the jobs
               the way of
               life
and your number, how you hold it, its promise on its paper,
if numbers could breathe each one of these would be an
               exhalation, the last breath of something
and then there you have it: stilled: the exactness: the number: your
               number. That is why they
               can use it. Because it was living
               and now is
               stilled. The transition from one state to the
               other – they
               give, you
               receive – provides its shape.
A number is always hovering over something beneath it. It is
               invisible, but you can feel it. To make a sum
you summon a crowd. A large number is a form
               of mob. The larger the number the more
               terrifying.
They are getting very large now.
               The thing to do right
               away
is to start counting, to say it is my
               turn, mine to step into
               the stream of blood
               for the interview,
               to say I
               can do it, to say I
               am not
one, and then say two, three, four and feel
               the blood take you in from above a legion
single file heading out in formation
               across a desert that will not count.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences